Subchronic nicotine exposure in adolescence induces long-term effects on hippocampal and striatal cannabinoid-CB1 and mu-opioid receptors in rats

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There is evidence for the existence of functional interactions between nicotine and cannabinoids and opioid compounds in adult experimental animals. However, there is scarce information about these relationships in young animals. In the present study we evaluated short and long-term effects of a subchronic nicotine treatment [0.4 mg/kg daily i.p. injections from postnatal day (PND) 34 to PND 43], upon hippocampal and striatal cannabinoid-CB1 and mu-opioid receptors in Wistar rats of both genders. Rats were sacrificed 2 h after the last nicotine injection (short-term effects, PND 43) or one month later (long-term effects, PND 75). Hippocampal and striatal cannabinoid CB1 and mu-opioid receptors were quantified by Western blotting. The subchronic nicotine treatment induced a region-dependent long-lasting effect in cannabinoid CB1 receptor: a significant increase in hippocampal cannabinoid CB1 receptors and a significant decrease in striatal cannabinoid CB1 receptors, with these effects being similar in males and females. With respect to mu-opioid receptors, subchronic nicotine induced a significant down-regulation in hippocampal and striatal mu-opioid receptors in the long-term, and within the striatum the effects were more marked in adult males than in females. The present results indicate that juvenile nicotine taking may have implications for the endocannabinoid and endogenous opioid function and for the behaviors served by those systems, this includes possible modification of the response of adults to different psychotropic drugs, i.e. cannabis and morphine/heroin when taken later in life.

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